We’re now 66 days into the Children’s Health Insurance Program limbo created by the Republican Congress’s refusal to pass funding. While none of the 9 million children or pregnant women on the program have been kicked off the program yet, they all fear that day is coming. Like Laquita Gardner, a furniture rental store sales manager in Wilmington, Delaware. She got a raise at her job, which is fantastic, except for the part where she lost her and her children’s Medicaid. Luckily, her kids still qualified for CHIP—at least for now.
“I’m kind of shocked, because this is something for kids,” Ms. Gardner said Thursday as her 7-year-old, Alexander, braced for a flu shot at a bright, busy neighborhood clinic run by the Nemours Children’s Health System. Ms. Gardner pays $25 a month for her sons’ CHIP coverage, with no deductible or co-payments. […]
The uncertainty has been unsettling to parents, pediatricians and state officials around the country. States are weighing whether to freeze enrollment in CHIP, shut down their programs or find money from other sources. Last week Colorado sent letters to CHIP families, advising them to start researching private health insurance options because there was “no guarantee” that Congress would continue the program. Texas has drawn up a detailed “termination timeline” under which the state could begin mailing insurance cancellation notices on Dec. 22, three days before Christmas.]…]
“I’ve been around a while and I’ve never seen a program that is this popular, and that goes across the aisle,” said Stephen Groff, director of the state’s Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance. “To be having this discussion, that we may be in a funding crisis, is beyond belief.”
The glimmer of hope I reported on yesterday, that Congress would try to figure out some way to keep funds flowing through the government shutdown fight by including it in the short-term funding bill, has gone out. The likeliest scenario now is that the temporary funding bill is “clean,” meaning it just keeps government doors open. CHIP might slip in, but it’s clearly not a top priority for any Republican.
Even the Republican who is so proud of having created the program in 1997, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who says that “we can’t afford” the program now, not without making massive cuts to other safety net programs. That’s after he shepherded a $1 trillion+ tax giveaway to the Republican donor class onto the floor.
Jam the phone lines of House and Senate Republicans, but make the first call to Hatch. Call (202) 224-3121, and tell him to stop holding kids hostage and to pass a clean funding bill for CHIP and community health centers.